PhD defense at Tilburg University
Published in  
April 1, 2016

PhD defense at Tilburg University

The 18th of March 2016, I defended my PhD thesis Empty Promises? Compliance with the Human Rights Framework in relation to Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting in Senegal at Tilburg University, the Netherlands.

In short, my PhD thesis addresses the question why Senegal is (not) in compliance with the human rights framework that is designed to eliminate the practice of FGM/C. Over the last decades, discourse in relation to the elimination of FGM/C is positioned within the scope of international and regional human rights law. The practice is considered a form of Violence Against Women (VAW) and a human rights violation. A comprehensive human rights framework exists at both the international and regional levels that addresses VAW and harmful practices in general, and FGM/C in particular. Despite the various international and regional (quasi) legal norms addressing the practice of FGM/C, the prevalence rates have remained high in many of the countries where FGM/C occurs. This raises the question to what extent (and why) States comply, or in the case of FGM/C, appear not to comply, with the human rights framework that is designed to eliminate the practice. I selected Senegal as a case study. The central question of my research was the following: Which factors explain compliance and/or non-compliance with the human rights framework in relation to the practice of Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting in Senegal?

The supervisors of my PhD thesis are prof. dr. M.S. Groenhuijsen (Tilburg University), prof. dr. R.M. Letschert (Tilburg University), prof. dr. E. Leye (Ghent University). The members of my reading committee are prof. dr. E. Brems (Ghent University), prof. dr. Y.M. Donders (University of Amsterdam), prof. dr. K. de Feyter (University of Antwerp), N.J. Diop (UNFPA New York). The ceremony started at 2pm in the Auditorium of Tilburg Univeristy with a Laymen's Speech of 10 minutes. I explained what I did in the past four years: what I researched, why I carried out my research and what the results of my study are. You can find a link to the ppt of my speech here.

At 2.15pm, the committee arrived in the Auditorium and asked me questions about my PhD research. Although I was very excited, I managed to remain calm and really enjoyed answering the questions of the committee members. When, after 45 minutes of questioning, the "Hora Est" (what a nice moment!) was proclaimed, the academic session was suspended for deliberation.

Below you will find a video of the moment (1.45 minute) that I receive my doctoral degree:

Afterwards, my supervisor Marc Groenhuijsen gave his ‘laudatio’ (speech of supervisor), and I was moved by his kind words. After the defense, it was time for a group picture with the committee, my dear paranymphs and my husband.

Afterwards, I invited everyone for a reception at the Leerfabriek in Oisterwijk. With friends, family and colleagues we enjoyed a good glass of wine, spoke about my research and celebrated together the finalization of my PhD journey. After a beautiful speech of my dad and a speech of my husband, the day came to and end. It was a very memorable day.